If it’s your first time visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are many spots you should check out! You want to see what this beautiful area has to offer, so we’ve put together a list of the best places in the national park to visit! Look at these top 5 spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you should visit:
1. Clingmans Dome
One of the first stops you should make in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Clingmans Dome. It is one of the highest elevations in the park at 6,643 feet. The fall colors start to change here first, and snow falls here first too. The walk to the observation deck is about 0.5 of a mile, but the paved path is steep. Once you reach the tower, you’ll definitely think the steep trek was worth it! On a clear day, you will be able to see over 100 miles away, and there are incredible views of the Smoky Mountains range.
2. Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
A great area to spend time with family and have a picnic in nature is at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Many picnic tables sit beside the river, providing a great view. Kids and teens love to play in the water before and after you eat. Around this area, there are some hiking trails, including the trek to the Walker Sisters Place and the old schoolhouse their family owned. You’re also fairly close to some other great spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
3. Laurel Falls
If you want to see an amazing waterfall but aren’t an avid hiker, make your way to Laurel Falls. This hike is 2.6 miles roundtrip, and the entire path is paved, preventing you from tripping over rocks and roots. There are some places along the hike that have steep drop offs, so be careful as you make your way up and down. Once you reach the top, you will see Laurel Falls. It stands at 80 feet tall and is separated by a footbridge. There are two tiers of the waterfall. You will be able to see why Laurel Falls is a popular destination!
4. Cades Cove
One of the most popular spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park people want to visit is Cades Cove. You drive along an 11-mile paved road to see some of the most beautiful parts of the park. There are fields full of wildflowers in the spring, and the trees are incredible in the fall. You’ll love seeing Cades Cove during any season. It’s also a great place to learn about the mountain culture since there are a ton of historical buildings. You’re also likely to see wildlife in Cades Cove, from black bears to deer.
5. Newfound Gap
If you enjoy a nice drive, you should ride through Newfound Gap. A gap is a low point in a mountain ridge, and Newfound Gap is the lowest gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s definitely a scenic route since you go through the mountains, passing cove hardwood, pine-oak, and northern hardwood forests. Temperatures in this area are significantly colder than lowlands and is more likely to get the most snow. You’ll enjoy seeing the Smokies along Newfound Gap!
Now you know about some great spots you should see in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Want to know more about other attractions? Look at these things to do in Gatlinburg for more ideas!